A friend recently posted an article on facebook about a very proactive breastfeeding woman and her realization about judging Mommies who choose not to breastfeed their children. It was an article that really resonated with me and the internal criticism that I have for women who make pregnancy, delivery, and parenting choices different from mine. In the article, the woman writes about being a doula and how much she stresses the importance of breastfeeding to all of her clients. She was asked to speak separately with a woman who in pregnancy had made a decision to not breastfeed and how she immediately jumped to judgemental conclusions about the woman without knowing her full story and why she had made that decision. I thought a lot about how I have often turned up my nose at women who make the same decision, how much I felt that anyone can fight through it and should make the effort. I thought a lot about how I thought in my head that women who formula feed are misinformed or taking the easy route. I looked at women who pulled out a bottle to feed their babies as being "less than". Even in speaking to my own mother about her difficulties with nursing and her choice to formula feed my sister and I very early on, I would shake my head and comment that with the correct support she probably could have made it through the challenging times. I justified my thoughts by framing them in a "loving" manner feeling that I was superior in this situation because I had made the "right" choice.
And then God does a little dance with your heart and gives you a baby boy who latches on great, but cannot sustain a long enough feed to get the nourishment that his body so desperately needs. And I have written before about how thankful I am that pumping is going well, but I honestly do feel some shame when I pull out his bottle in public even though it is 100% human milk. And I wonder to myself how many people pass judgment on me without knowing my full story and how hard I fight for him. It's another way that God and Johnny teach me. Breastfeeding is really, really hard. I have been so fortunate to make it past the hard time to get to that really great place that breastfeeding can be. Some women don't make it there and that's ok. I always tell my friends and family that are just starting out how important every little breastfeed is, but truthfully, if you are making a decision to feed your child anything formulated for babies and you aren't leaving them to cry and starve like some women out there do, then you are making a good choice. And yes, breast is absolutely best as far as the perfect food goes, but it may not be the best for personal reasons.
We are so hard on each other as women. And that's not to say that I agree with every single woman's choices in raising their kids, but I do need to set the snobbery aside and the eye rolling can probably be reserved for only the most extreme of cases. At the end of the day, I need to remember that every woman has her own story, and that story may vary with different children, and that needs to be taken into consideration. I don't know what battles women are facing with their kids, with society, with their spouses, or with themselves, and until I do and my opinion has been asked for, then maybe I should shut my mouth physical or otherwise. I will probably fail at this hundreds of times over my life, but I hope that I can at least start supporting women more in their choices. Of course if I reach my goal of becoming a nurse, it's something I will have to get very good at, so I may as well start now.